Crazy dirt ride

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Kristian Meade posted on the Cardinia Climbers Post:

Hey guys,
For those who aren’t at 3 peaks or Bike Buller or out of town on holidays.
I’m planning to do a nice ride tomorrow morning kicking off from Cardi pub at 7:30
There will be plenty of gravel roads involved and it will also involve some of the hardest dirt climbs in the local area. Come prepared for some lung busting action. 

Click here for link to the Strava route.

As I had been injured all week, I couldn’t commit till the last minute.  Somehow recovering from the century that I rode yesterday.  The mention of dirt climbs grabbed me though, and was really looking forward to it. We started with Quamby Road which I had not ridden before.  It was quite bumpy and I was still trying to find my legs.  It was 1.3km’s @ 6%.

I suggested an alternative route to Kristian to get to A’Beckett Road, and asked if he had climbed Chadwick Road, & he said no.  I had a short cut which involved fording a river, and climbing a crazy climb.  He said why not. We descended St George’s Road, and hit a walking track which wasn’t suitable to ride our Roadie’s on.  It was nuts what we were doing, but Kristian seemed to like adventure.  We came upon a river, and I was actually a little disappointed that most of it was dried up.

We could easily jump over what little water there was.

On the other side the path went skywards.  There was no hope of getting any form of traction on it, and had to walk our bikes up.  The path was at least 400 metres long, and was around 20% gradient.  Peaking at 25% in several points.  It was a lung burner just getting the bikes up that thing.

Crazy dirt ride
This doesn’t look that steep, but Kristian’s just pushing a 25% pinch

We needed a breather at the top, and shortly descended Foote Road.  Which is about 1 km @ 7% gradient.  I honestly hadn’t come down here & crossed over to Chadwick Road before.  When I saw the stream in front of me, was thinking WTF.  It was close to 3 metres wide, and was trying to work out a way that we could get our bikes across.  (see below)

Crazy dirt ride


I walked further down stream, and found a tonne of large rocks a little to our left.  Figuring that we could carry our bikes over there.  I knew it would be dangerous to cross on our cleats so we took our shoes off.  If you slipped, what was your first priority, to protect yourself, or to protect the bike?  I went over first, and had no dramas.

Kristian then threw our shoes over, and being the unco that I am dropped one of my shoes in the river.

Crazy dirt ride
Just a minor detail to get to the other side

Kristian got safely across, and this wasn’t road cycling.  This was adventuring.

Crazy dirt ride


We headed straight onto Chadwick Road.  This road is broken into two climbs, but with pinches hitting 12% in bits.  This is a lot harder than the average gradient suggests:


From just riding 12 km’s of adventuring I was stuffed, and in a bit of damage control.  Trying desperately to recover.  We had an easy descent down A’Beckett Road, and I showed Kristian this 800 metre backstreet climb called Aurich Drive.  This starts shallow, and slowly increases to over 12%, and is quite hard.


Crazy dirt ride


I was lucky not to have lost my KOM as he missed it by only a second.

We then headed up Robinsons Road, and headed towards the next gravel climb, Halleur Road.  Halleur Road is 1.6 km’s @ 5%.  However this is very deceptive as there is a large flattened section in the middle.  With several parts of this climb peak at 10%.  This climb takes you through some magnificent farmland, and is quite a serene climb to do.

Crazy dirt ride
Halleur Road

I was cooked, and it can be hard when you’re riding with someone else to hide the pain.  I was lucky that Kristian took the lead on Harkaway Road, and I was able to roll in his wheel on the descent, and recover a bit.

We headed up Payne Road, and I was hoping that we could start cruising from here. As we neared Cooinda Road, Kristian stuck his arm out to head up there.  This is a road that I was aware of, and had never climbed, as the name is special to me as I went to Cooinda Primary School, which was one of the schools that the government sold off in the 90’s.  I was feeling pretty lousy, but somehow the on switch flicked on & I flew up the road.  The first 500 metres averages 10%.  I couldn’t sustain any power for a given period of time and had to take the foot off the accelerator and coast.

I kept up a fast temp, and was able to get to the gravel section all right, but as soon as it hit dirt I was in trouble.

It was hard to keep traction, and I started to wheeze, and had to go into the hurt box to keep it at a high tempo.  A hundred metres into the dirt section the road became horribly corrugated.  I had no hope of keeping a rythmn as my arms were getting horribly jarred.  This section didn’t last long, and I was able to push on.  I got through the climb ok, and all up was 1.9 km’s @ 6%.  Given that we cruised until the start of the climb, and I had no idea where any of the segments were, or how fast I needed I was surprised to have taken a couple of the KOM’s (sorry Robbie!).

We continued to push all of the way to the end of Payne Road and almost fell off the bike at the top.  Wheezing heavily.  I had at least a half a minute lead on Kristian and tried to compose myself as best as I could.  I really needed a big break here, and should have asked, but didn’t want to sound soft.  Unfortunately we headed straight off onto the dirt part of O’Neil Road.  There wasn’t much climbing to start with, but the first couple of k’s were heavily corrugated.

My arms were being wrenched from their sockets, it was that bumpy.

It was bumpy, and there was a lot of loose gravel around and it was hard to get into a rythmn.  As with all the climbs we hit.  They would be quite short, but they’d go close to 12% for 100 – 200 metres, and this section was a real grind.  Without recovering from my Cooinda slog I was struggling big time.

We turned onto Hughesden Road, and the climbs got steeper, and this whole road was littered with gravel.  We found it impossible to get any traction, and my legs started to get heavier and heavier on each climb.
When we reached Salisbury Road (paved).  I was majorly relieved, and with some down hill to the bottom of Leppit Road i had a bit of recovery time ahead of me.  I know this would be short lived, as we were coming upon the hardest climb of the day.  Then again I’m never shy of a good climb.

Crazy dirt ride


We turned up onto Hein Road, and shortly came to a short 300 metre climb which peaked at 15%.  I just laughed and told Kristian that this was the warm-up as this was his first time up Berglund Road.  There was a bit of a descent, and then as the road started to climb, there was a warning sign for steep ascent.  The first part of this climb is 700 metres @ 15%.

Crazy dirt ride
Berglund Road (30% peak)

As you round the bend, the first couple of hundred metres are at a very tough 20% average.

I had taken some photos at the base and foolishly started on a standing start, and just struggled.  I had difficulty getting traction on the gravel, and had to get off the bike & start walking.  Kristian had stopped half way, and was just looking at the wall in front of him (see above).  The last 200metres is paved due to its extreme steepness, and peaks at just under 30%.  I cruised up it, but you have to search deep to grind up a climb this steep.  I’ve done dozens of climbs like this, and I kept thinking if I stop.  What sort of message is that sending to Kristian behind me.  I did it, and although short is one of the toughest short climbs that you can possibly do in Metropolitan Melbourne.

Crazy dirt ride
Kristian getting over the top of a 30% pinch

I was spent, and from here was in damage control just turning the pedals.  My spirit had been crushed, and I just focused on technique.  Every hill we hit was a grind, and I was running on fumes.  Kristian started taking off on me, and I could have given up and let him go, but kept pumping out as fast pace as I could comfortably do and grinded it back to Upper Beaconsfield.

From here it was all downhill, and never before have I been so utterly exhausted from such a short ride.  This ride had a bit of everything, and was frekin awesome.  Gravel adventures aren’t for everyone, and for those who haven’t given them a shot you don’t know what you’re missing out on.

Here is a link to my Strava Activity here:

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